William Barnes - Dorset Poet

William Barnes was born in 1801 at Bagber, near Sturminster Newton in North Dorset. He was educated locally and worked as a solicitor's clerk until 1823, when he became a schoolmaster. In 1827 he married Julia Miles. Her death, in 1852, affected him deeply; many of his poems describe his love for her. He was ordained in 1848 and was appointed curate at Whitcombe near Dorchester. Barnes died in 1886; his obituary in the Saturday Review read: 'There is no doubt that he is the best pastoral poet we possess, the most sincere, the most genuine, the most theocritan; and that the dialect is but a very thin veil hiding from us some of the most delicate and finished verse written in our time.'

Amongst his books of poetry are Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect (1844), Hwomely Rhymes (1859), both written in the Dorset dialect, and Poems of Rural Life in Common English (1868).

I have selected several poems purely on the basis of their effect on me, a native of Dorset and one who still remembers how the dialect was spoken by his older relatives.

Easter Zunday

Vull a Man

Linden Lea

The Girt Woak Tree

The Wife a-Lost

The Young that Died in Beauty

The Geate a-Vallen To

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